The winter months can be hard on vehicles, but there are
steps you can take to keep your ride running strong even when temperatures
drop. Performing some basic preventative maintenance and stocking up on
emergency supplies can help keep you from getting in trouble and get you out of
it in case something goes wrong.
1) Address existing problems: If your car idles rough, struggles to start or has a tendency to stall out, colder temperatures only make it worse. Get your car to a local shop and get any pre-existing issues fixed before winter rolls around.
2) Change your oil and replace dirty air filters: Again, these are two crucial maintenance steps at any time of the year, but get exacerbated in a harsher climate. Letting your oil go too long starts to damage your engine, while dirty filters make it run less efficiently.
3) Have your battery checked: Battery strength should be tested by a professional. If you’re having battery issues now, get it to a shop soon to avoid getting stranded!
4) Replace tires if needed: Like most other things on this list, worn tires perform worse when the weather deteriorates. If you think your tires are close to needing replaced, it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and get a new set. If you have low profile sport tires, you may need a set of snow tires with deeper tread if you’re in an area that will see some significant snow. It’s also a good idea to make sure your car jack and spare tire are in good shape in case you have a flat.
Basic Maintenance & Preparedness
5) Add fuel deicer: Adding a bottle to your gas tank once a month helps keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. If you see below freezing temps coming, it’s a good preventative step to take (especially in older models).
6) Flush your coolant: It’s a good idea to check this periodically – just make sure to not remove the radiator cap until the engine is cool. A 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze is recommended.
7) Check your wiper blades: Rubber-edged winter blades will fight ice buildup. You’ll also want to make sure your windshield washer solvent is full and you have some extra sitting around the garage as well. Keep a snow brush and ice scraper handy, too.
8) Pack an emergency kit: A winter emergency kit should include extra gloves, boots and blankets, a shovel, sand or kitty litter, tow strap, a flashlight and extra batteries, jumper cables, a portable battery charger, a car cell phone charger, and maybe some emergency snacks.